Friday, December 05, 2003


Frank and I are pretty much of one mind on the government's decentralization proposal.

What passes for "decentralization" with the Irish government is much more about relocation than any real decentralizing of power. Shfting an entire government department outside Dublin does not constitute real decentralization. I'd be a lot happier if the government were disbanding some government departments and allowing local authorities to make the decisions (on policy, civil servants' pay, etc.) themselves. For example, why do we need a Department of Education?

However, there is one upside to this plan. It will be a boon to Dublin's business climate. Obviously, the sudden glut of office space will be a plus to any potential entrepreneur or small business squeezed by high rents. But, more importantly, I think this move will have a positive effect on the culture of the city for the good of the whole country.

I think one of the worst things about Dublin is the effect that the civil service culture has on the atmosphere of the city. It's difficult to quantify, but I have no doubt that many people working in the private sector are envious of the life styles of those who do not know what it is to fear unemployment.

I would favor moving the capital of the country out of Dublin to Cork (or anywhere else). A healthy tension between the capital, with its government culture, and the biggest city, with its enterprise culture, is good for all.

UPDATE 11:20am: Jon, too, is unimpressed by the government's decentralization scheme.